If you’re looking to add another SEO tool to your arsenal, Surfer is a great option to consider whether you’re sick of overpriced software or simply haven’t found one that suits your website.
But you don’t want to invest money into a tool you’ve never tried before.
That’s why we put it to the test; to check whether Surfer SEO is worth paying for, and how it compares to other popular tools on the market.
In this guide, we’ll share:
- What Surfer SEO is
- The best features
- Whether Surfer SEO actually works
- How Surfer compares to other SEO tools
- How much Surfer costs
- Whether it’s worth the money
What is Surfer SEO?
Surfer SEO is a tool that helps you with your on-page SEO.
It’s geared towards writers, marketers, and developers who need to optimize a website on a page-by-page basis. The tool works by aggregating data about your competition, including:
- The keywords they target
- The links they have
- The content they write.
You can use Surfer’s SEO tool to optimize your blog, eCommerce, or service site.
It takes 500 ranking factors into consideration. The end result: valuable information that shows you how to optimize each page on your site.
What features does Surfer have?
As with any SEO tool, you need to make sure that it does the job you’re looking for.
That’s usually difficult when it comes to SEO since there are thousands of tiny elements that make-up a solid SEO strategy.
But the beauty of Surfer is that it offers tons of features inside one tool. That includes:
1. SERP Analyzer
Looking at the competition is a great way to start (or improve) any piece of content.
Why? Because it shows what Google thinks is the best fit for the query. It’s what they consider to be the best content for that keyword—and the content you’ll need to beat to take their spot.
Surfer’s SERP Analyzer feature helps you understand what the results page looks like for your chosen keyword, without having to do it all manually. It shows:
- Alternative keyword suggestions to include on the page
- The questions people want answering when they’re searching for that term
- The sites giving backlinks to those top-ranking pages
Search results pages can vary dramatically, though. That’s why Surfer allows you to toggle results by mobile/desktop and location.
If most of your visitors browse on mobile, for example, you can see the URLs ranking well on mobile that you’ve got to beat.
Plus, you’ll see how the SERP has changed over time. You can use this data to make your content futureproof.
2. Content editor
One of the most important SEO rules is to have a bunch of keywords that mean a similar thing. It’s the easiest way to tell search engines what your page is about—and what it should rank for.
Surfer’s Content Editor helps you do that as you’re writing.
You can write your content directly inside the editor. Then, in the right-hand column, you’ll see suggestions on how to improve your content, such as:
- How many words to hit
- Which keywords you’re missing
- Topics and questions to answer
You can also export to Google Docs or copy a shareable link for your team.
3. Keyword research
Speaking of keywords, you don’t have to add your content to the editor to find keyword suggestions.
The Keyword Research feature will do that for you, and present you with a list of keywords to consider when you’re optimizing each page.
This is great if you’re working on a site that needs to rank in other locations, too. You can change the location focus of your keyword search, which will show you keyword suggestions based on the search habits of people in a specific country.
There’s also a built-in clipboard to make a list of target keywords as you go. No more copy and pasting needed.
4. SEO audit
The final noteworthy feature of Surfer is the SEO Audit tool.
Type the page’s main keyword into the main search bar. Then, under the “comparison” section, enter your page’s URL. Hit “Audit” next to your URL:
You’ll see the SEO metrics for your page, and how it compares to the keyword you want to target.
For example, we added the keyword “SEO” and ran an audit for our “What is SEO?” guide. Surfer told us:
- The word count was in the perfect range
- We had the correct keyword density
- We should consider bolding more words
- Our page loading speed was great
This report should be your first port of call whenever you’re optimizing old content.
Does Surfer SEO really work?
Now we know what Surfer’s SEO tool can do, there’s one question still standing: does it really work?
We put Surfer to the test and found the things it’s great (and not-so-great).
Pros of Surfer
Let’s start with the good things about Surfer’s SEO tool.
First: it’s fast to load results. You don’t need to wait around for the reports to build-out; you’ll see them in less than five seconds.
Plus, I found Surfer super easy to navigate for people who aren’t into tech. And if you’re not unsure of how to use the tool, there’s a “how to use” link on the app dashboard to help you get to grips with it.
There’s also a Chrome extension if you don’t want to use the website. This lets you investigate on-page SEO elements whilst you’re on a website—without cutting and pasting the URL into Surfer.com.
But arguably the best part about Surfer is the built-in content editor. Other SEO tools don’t offer content editors inside their platform; you’d have to pay for another tool like Clearscope or MarketMuse (which are pricey on their own.)
The downside of Surfer
There’s no doubt that Surfer is a good SEO tool. However, there are a few downsides to consider before adding it to your toolkit.
The first is the fact there isn’t a free trial. But even then, you start testing whether it fits your SEO needs with a 7-day trial.
It’ll set you back $1, and you don’t need to add your credit card to sign up. (You can’t get automatically charged after the trial ends.)
Surfer is also pending a lot of features. The referring URLs, anchor profile, and visible subpage reports are “coming soon.”
Finally, it’s worth noting that there’s a limited number of queries based on your price plan. This can look appealing at first glance, but you might run out of queries quickly—especially if you’re working on a large site.
How does Surfer SEO compare to other SEO/content tools?
There are hundreds of SEO tools to choose from, each with their own set of features (and price points.)
Let’s take a look at how Surfer compares to some of the most popular.
Surfer vs. Ahrefs
Ahrefs is one of the most popular SEO tools that Surfer is competing with.
That’s because Ahrefs has a reputation for being a great SEO tool for websites of any size. Their Site Explorer is superb for analyzing existing pages—but Surfer is better for creating new ones.
You can add your content to get specific suggestions.
The URL analyzer is better on Ahrefs, too, because it shows a bunch of useful metrics like:
- Domain Rating (DR)
- How organic traffic changes over time
- The top pages on a site by traffic value
- Backlinks pointing to the domain
…But the sheer volume of data can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re new to SEO.
On the whole, Surfer is the better choice for the content and optimization side of SEO. That’s because the content editor helps beat competitors, and guides you through writing the actual content.
(With Ahrefs, you’d have to do it and wait for the SEO results to appear.)
Surfer vs. Moz
Moz is another popular option if you’re looking for SEO tools.
Both Moz and Surfer have very similar features, but the biggest difference is the content editor.
Moz has a page optimization report that gives suggestions on what your content should include. However, it’s just keywords; you can’t see changes in real-time.
Surfer, on the other hand, gives real-time suggestions as you type the content. It also compares it against your competitor’s content structure to check you’re on the right track whilst you’re writing—not afterward.
Surfer vs. MarketMuse
Whilst MarketMuse isn’t an SEO tool, it’s the most similar comparison to Surfer’s content editor tool (the feature that makes it 10 times better than most traditional SEO tools.)
MarketMuse is very expensive and it doesn’t have the other SEO features you probably need—like Surfer’s keyword research or site audit tools.
You’d have to pay for MarketMuse and a separate SEO tool, like Ahrefs or Moz, to get all the features Surfer offers.
How much does Surfer SEO cost?
As we mentioned earlier, there is no free trial for Surfer. You can get a 7-day trial for $1.
For ongoing plans, pricing starts from $49.20/month. This basic plan includes the features we’ve mentioned.
The full package starts from $165.80/month. With that, you’ll get the option to white-label your SEO reports, making it a superb way for agencies to share results with their clients. (Either way, it’s still tons cheaper than Ahrefs’ most similar plan.)
Their Chrome plugin is totally free and you don’t need an account.
Is it worth the money?
In short: Yes! Surfer is cheaper than other SEO tools and is just as good—if not better.
Plus, you’ll be able to find a plan that suits you without breaking the bank.
Freelancers and small businesses would do fine on the basic plan. Agencies, eCommerce websites, and huge blogs have more than enough features to take care of their site on the Pro or Business plans.
Ready to master your SEO with Surfer?
As you can see, Surfer is superb SEO software to add to your toolkit.
Regardless of whether you’re a small blogger or running a 5,000-page eCommerce website, you’ll find their features useful.
The best part? You can see whether it offers the features you need with their $1 seven-day trial.
If it does, there’s no risk of falling in love with a product that you can’t justify the price tag for. Pricing for Surfer is incredibly affordable—especially when it acts as content optimization and SEO tool all in one.